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    Fight Back Against Chronic Pain: Let a Physical Therapist Help You

    It’s important to lead a healthy, strong, and active lifestyle. If you suffer from a chronic pain condition, this kind of lifestyle is not always easy to have. If the very thought of going out and exercising with your aches and pains leaves you feeling uncomfortable or nervous, know that there is a simpler solution to gaining the active lifestyle you desire.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 1 in 5 people have chronic pain. In fact, approximately 80 percent of Americans have experienced (or will experience) chronic back pain! This kind of problem is extremely common – and over 100 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from it – so if you are struggling with chronic pain, know that other people are in the same boat as you.

    Standard pain medications have so many negative, potentially harmful side effects, which can leave you wondering if you are just stuck with your pain. Fortunately, there is another potential solution: physical therapy!

    Physical therapy has been shown to be effective in reducing or even eliminating chronic pain for many patients. With the right treatment plan, you may be able to greatly reduce your discomfort. To learn more about physical therapy and how it could benefit you, contact Johnston Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine today.

    What is chronic pain?

    Chronic back pain is a progressive pain that gradually worsens with time and basic daily activities. It refers to pain that lasts more than three months. On average, most people can recover from back pain by understanding its causes, especially those that do not derive from an incident, such as a car accident or work-related injury.

    All about acute and chronic back pain

    Acute pain is typically an expected bodily response to a severe injury and lasts for a much shorter amount of time. According to Spine Health, “Acute pain is a type of pain that typically lasts less than 3 to 6 months. [It is] directly related to soft tissue damage such as a sprained ankle or a paper cut. [It] gradually resolves as the injured tissues heal.”

    Chronic back pain may arise from a sudden, traumatic injury or repetitive stress on the vertebrae. Pain includes uncomfortable sensations, such as a burning, tingling, or stinging feeling, as well as sharp pain and aches.

    The Mayoclinic states that “People with poor posture, bulging or herniated discs, arthritis, skeletal irregularities, and osteoporosis may suffer from chronic back pain more often than their peers.”

    There are other factors such as weight, age, poor lifting practices, and even mental health conditions that may increase the risk for back pain. It only takes one injury for someone to end up with long-term problems caused by a painful condition.

    How can physical therapy help you find relief?

    1. Physical therapists can increase your strength levels.

    Physical therapists are trained movement specialists who know how to pinpoint areas of weakness and pain. Depending on your condition, your physical therapist may teach you some exercises designed to strengthen your muscles and soft tissues.

    It may seem a bit odd to you that getting physically stronger is recommended when you are in pain – since exercising can prove to be painful on its own, especially at first. But there are good reasons your physical therapist has to try to make you stronger.

    Often, the cause of chronic pain is pressure on nerves in your joints, whether it’s located in your spine, knees, hips, elbows. If you take time to work on strengthening the muscles around those joints stronger, they will be better at providing support – which can take some of the pressure off of your nerves.

    2. Physical therapy can improve your flexibility.

    When you are suffering from an injury, it is common for your body to compensate in some way to avoid the pain – which can lead to unhealthy movement patterns that you may not even be aware of.

    The way your body compensates may help right after the injury, but over time it will lead to wear and tear on other parts of your body. If you feel really tight or locked up in one way or another, you are probably experiencing decreased levels of flexibility. Improving your levels of flexibility can also decrease your pain.

    Physical therapy can gently relax your body so that you can return to moving in a healthy manner. Your physical therapist will work with you to ease the tension so that your body can move correctly and increase the strength of the muscles surrounding the joint so that you can maintain the correct movement patterns.

    3. Physical therapists have a variety of methods to use for treatment.

    Physical therapists have tons of tools at their disposal to treat your immediate pain.

    For example, they can use things like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), and hot and cold therapies to help reduce inflammation and ease your pain.

    These electrical ice and heat therapies can also help improve your body’s ability to heal.

    4. Physical therapists can improve your overall movement.

    Most people don’t pay much attention to how they move in their day-to-day activities. Chances are, you could be bending over, lifting, walking, running, sitting, or moving in some other manner that is contributing to your chronic pain.

    Your first session with your physical therapist will include an exam where they watch the way you perform different activities – like walking or bending over – to identify any possible problems.

    Once they know where things are going wrong, they can teach you how to improve so that you do not unknowingly increase your chronic pain. Learning how to improve the issues with your movements can significantly decrease the pain you experience.

    Kiss chronic pain goodbye — once and for all

    We are here to help. If you are struggling with chronic pain, our physical therapy team can design an individualized treatment program to help alleviate your pain and improve your life. Be sure to contact Johnston Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine today to schedule an appointment.

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